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Fire Alarm Systems for the Hearing-Impaired

Fireline Fire Alarm Systems Deaf and Hearing Impaired

If you are hearing-impaired, there are fire alarm systems available to alert you to a fire.

In the event of a fire, every second counts. The shrill, high-pitched sound of standard smoke alarms is meant to create a sense of urgency while alerting occupants to a fire, offering as much time as possible to safely evacuate. Unfortunately, auditory stimulus devices are not effective for individuals who are deaf or hearing-impaired.

Tactile Stimulus Devices

The best fire alarm notification appliances for the deaf and hearing-impaired are tactile stimulus devices that vibrate the person or bed to alert them to a fire. These are especially useful during times when the individual is asleep. While visual devices are often recommended, the effectiveness of said devices is diminished if the occupant is asleep when the alarm system activates.

Pillow/Bed Shakers

A pillow or bed shaker is a device that has a hub that sits on a surface and is connected to an electrical outlet, while a round disc is placed under the user’s pillow or mattress. These devices respond to the sound of a standard fire alarm, causing them to vibrate. They are the most effective devices for waking a sleeping person who is deaf or hearing-impaired, offering them the maximum amount of time to escape.


There are apps available that can detect the sound of an alarm and cause a smartphone to vibrate, operating similarly to pillow or bed shakers. There are issues with using a smartphone, however. The first is that it needs to be placed under the pillow, which could hinder its ability to detect the sound of the alarm. The second is that the phone cannot be charged while under the pillow because this is a fire hazard, so the phone needs to be charged before the occupant goes to sleep. The fact that it runs on batteries is another issue. If the batteries die, the phone cannot alert the user to a fire

Strobe Alarms

Strobe notification appliances are the most widely recommended and used devices for the deaf and hearing-impaired. While these should continue to be used, NFPA has found the effectiveness for sleeping individuals to be limited. They are highly dependent on distance and line of sight and lose effectiveness for elderly individuals. Strobe notification appliances should be used in conjunction with a tactile stimulus device such as a pillow or bed shaker, especially if the user is completely deaf.

Low-Frequency Alarms

A low-frequency smoke alarm emits a sound at a frequency of around 520 Hz, which is effective for users who are hearing-impaired, but not deaf. These systems can be integrated or stand-alone devices that trigger when a high-frequency alarm activates. The stand-alone device is preferable because it offers a second frequency, and allows the high-frequency alarm to trigger other notification appliances such as pillow and bed shakers.

Fire Protection Services from Fireline

Whether you need smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, or an automatic sprinkler system installed at your commercial property, Fireline has you covered. We have been protecting

people and property from fire damage since 1947—and our experience shows in our excellent work! We are known for our superb customer service, our expertise, and our reliability. For more information on how we can help your residential or commercial property, visit us online or give us a call at (800) 553-3405. We are in Baltimore, MD, with a second office in Leesburg, VA. For more fire safety tips, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 29th, 2022 at 2:41 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.